Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/448

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
444
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

parents are willing to keep their daughters at home longer than their sons. The woman teacher has not been accustomed from early life to the thought that she must one day earn her living. She knows even after entering the school-room that her career as teacher is likely at any time to be cut short by marriage. Comparatively few women are wage-earners; the economic condition of the woman wage-earner is, moreover, quite different from that of the man; and the difference lies in the fact that the one is much less under the necessity of work than the other. It might naturally be inferred that the education of both sexes by that sex upon which the necessity of earning a living is rarely imposed would tend to keep economic considerations in the background. And it is true. Even in the higher grades economic independence is seldom a conscious aim; and the esthetic has a larger place than the useful. There ought to be more sympathy than there is for the boy with a yearning as he enters the age of adolescence to get out into the work-a-day world and earn a place for himself; a thing which the enrollment shows he is pretty likely to do if school does not prove that he will be the gainer by delay, or appeal to this side of his nature.

The presence of girls in the same classes with boys is not without significance here. It acts as a reinforcement of the same tendency away from the economic side which we have noted as a result of teachers exclusively women. A study of the tastes and preferences of women students in our universities, as indicated by the studies they elect, reveals the fact that they are not influenced to a great extent by economic forces. Women choose the purely cultural courses. A much larger proportion of them than of men study languages and literature; while very few take seriously to physics, chemistry, mathematics, political economy and political science.

In the University of Chicago in 1900-01, there were 3,520 students registered in attendance, of whom 1,844 were men and 1,676 were women. The two sexes were thus fairly equal in point of numbers, the men out-numbering the women by 168. But in the language courses women greatly out-numbered the men. There were during the year 1,603 women studying English, and only 1,084 men; in French there were 468 women and 435 men; in Latin 621 to 430. In those courses which are more practical as being more closely associated with industry, the figures are reversed; here the men greatly out-number the women. In chemistry during the same year, there were 666 men enrolled and 120 women; in physics, 353 men and 90 women; in political economy, 354 men and 65 women. As showing that women are less interested in political and governmental matters, there were in political science only 68 women to 269 men.

These figures have been compared with statistics of other universities in the same subjects and they show a remarkable similarity. Where